Architecture internships provide the formal training required to become a certified professional, and are essential for gaining a well-rounded set of experiences to help you grow as both a student and as a newly qualified architect.
In this article we want to discuss everything you need to know before starting such a position by covering how to find one, the duties and responsibilities you will undertake, the salary you can expect to be paid, and what you can expect to gain from the experience.
But firstly lets understand exactly what an architecture internship is…
What is an architecture internship?
Architectural associations around the world, put internships in place as a means of easing the transition from formal education, to architectural licensing and practice. Internships ensure that enough practical standard knowledge is gained before students enter into the industry as professionals, and in turn help to ensure that the health and safety of the public is maintained.
Internships are similar to the apprenticeship practice of the old days, albeit modernized. Apprenticeships did not require formal education, but candidates were typically enlisted to a mentor who took them under their wing and trained them until they were deemed to be ready.
However, most architectural internships require graduation from an accredited architecture school, or at least an enrollment in one before a placement can be offered.
Stand out from the competition, and create an interview ready portfolio.
What do interns do?
Aside from technical skills, internships are an opportunity to learn and work on your soft skills such as teamwork, independence, effective communication, and negotiation skills that will come in handy with future projects and eventual clients.
Duties of interns depend on the size of firm and their allocation of job duties, but typically, students can expect to do some or all of the following during the course of their internship:
- Site visits and project research.
- Presentation drawings.
- Construction and working drawings.
- 3D visualization and renderings.
- Scheduling and construction administration.
- Collaboration with other professionals in the construction industry.
- Building physical models.
- Carrying out drawing revisions.
Through these tasks, internships afford you the opportunity to:
Develop your technical skills – Although you learn a lot of technical skills in school, there is still so much to be learnt whilst working. Experience they say, is the best teacher. An aspiring architect should also learn to be a good data analyst, as you will be working with numbers, spreadsheets, and formulas.
A good architect should learn about presentations, economy, market, and technology. They are all vital parts of running a firm, and are all skills that will be of great value to interns who wish to get full time employment.
Work on relational skills – Communication is important. Though knowledge of technical skills might get you the job, your interpersonal skills determine if you will keep it. The way you relate with others, communicate your ideas and resolve conflicts are important skills to develop.
Your firm should be confident in your ability to represent them in the best possible light in every situation. Ensure you study and learn from architects you encounter along your journey.
Networking – Networking is a chance for you to build relationships with people that will help you get to where you want to be. The earlier you take networking seriously, the better for you it will be.
An architectural internship offers an opportunity to meet with some of the best and most experienced professionals in the field. You should expand your network to other interns like yourself, as they may be of great help in the future.
What do you learn at an architecture internship?
An architecture internship is a great way to gain practical experience in the field and learn about the day-to-day work of an architect. As an intern, you’ll have the opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals and learn from them as you complete real-world projects and tasks. Some of the things you might learn at an architecture internship could include:
- Design skills: You’ll have the opportunity to work on design projects and learn about different design techniques, software programs, and materials.
- Project management: You’ll learn about the process of managing a project from start to finish, including coordinating with clients, contractors, and other professionals.
- Communication skills: You’ll have the chance to work with clients and team members, and will learn how to communicate effectively and professionally.
- Technical skills: You’ll learn about building codes, materials, and other technical aspects of architecture.
- Professional experience: You’ll gain a sense of what it’s like to work in a professional architecture firm or organization and learn about the expectations and responsibilities of an architect.
What does an intern need know?
As an intern, there are certain skills and knowledge that will be helpful for you to have. Some of the things you should know or be familiar with could include:
- Design principles and techniques: You should have a good understanding of basic design principles and be able to apply them to your work. You should also be familiar with different design techniques and be able to use them effectively.
- Architectural software: You should be proficient in at least one or two architectural software programs, such as AutoCAD or SketchUp.
- Building codes and regulations: You should have a basic understanding of local building codes and regulations, as well as any other laws or standards that apply to your work.
- Materials and construction methods: You should be familiar with different types of materials and construction methods and be able to use this knowledge in your work.
- Project management: You should have a basic understanding of project management principles and be able to help coordinate tasks and timelines as needed.
- Communication skills: You should be able to communicate effectively with clients, team members, and other professionals, and be able to present your work in a clear and professional manner.
As an architect intern, you should be willing to learn, be proactive, and be able to work well with others. By developing these skills and knowledge, you can set yourself up for success in your internship and in your future career as an architect.
How long should you expect to intern?
The duration of an architecture internship can vary widely depending on the specific program or organization you are working with. Some internships may last for just a few weeks or months, while others may be longer-term arrangements that last for several months or even a year.
In general, internships are designed to provide a limited, temporary period of work experience to students or recent graduates who are seeking to gain practical knowledge and skills in the field.
The length of an architecture internship may depend on the specific needs and goals of the firm or organization you are working with, as well as your own career goals and objectives.
Some internships may be structured as part-time arrangements that allow you to work while you continue your studies or pursue other activities, while others may be full-time positions that are more intensive and immersive.
Ultimately, the duration of an architecture internship will depend on the specific circumstances and needs of the parties involved. It’s important to discuss the expectations and terms of the internship with your employer or supervisor in order to ensure that it meets your needs and goals.
How do I prepare for an architecture internship interview?
An architecture internship interview is an opportunity to showcase your skills and qualifications and convince the employer that you are the right fit for the position. Here are some tips for how to prepare:
- Research the company: Find out as much as you can about the company or organization you are interviewing with. Look at their website, social media accounts, and other online resources to learn about their projects, values, and culture. This will help you understand what they are looking for in an intern and tailor your responses to their needs.
- Review the job description: Make sure you understand the responsibilities and expectations of the internship position. Think about how your skills and experience align with the requirements of the role, and be prepared to talk about specific examples of how you can contribute to the company.
- Practice your answers: It’s a good idea to practice your responses to common interview questions, such as “Why do you want to work in architecture?” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” You can also think about specific examples of your work or experiences that demonstrate your skills and qualifications.
- Dress appropriately: Make sure you are dressed appropriately for the interview. For an architecture internship, it’s generally best to dress professionally, even if the company has a more relaxed dress code.
- Bring copies of your resume and portfolio: Bring copies of your resume and portfolio to the interview, even if you have already submitted these materials. This will give the interviewer a chance to review your work and ask any additional questions they may have.
How much does an architecture intern make? – Will you be paid during your internship?
In the United States, the average salary that an intern architect makes per year is $52,732. These estimates are centered on data received from 116 submissions.
In Canada, the average salary that an intern architect makes per year is C$52,017.
The salary earned is based on the number of years of experience and technical skills acquired over the years.
How to get your first internship
Getting your first internship can be very stressful. Companies typically might not want to hire someone without any job experience, but, you need to get hired to gain experience.
So how then do you go about this?
Write down all you have to offer – Think about everything you have ever accomplished, and all what you have up your sleeves. It is a great way to sell yourself to a potential employer.
It can also be referred to as a ‘brag sheet’. It should contain all that is worth mentioning about yourself and your abilities.
Include every single school or professional project you have worked on. Every qualification you have, degrees and certifications, professional affiliations, drawings, volunteer work experience, competitions and every other architecture-related thing you can think of.
This list can be updated as you go along. It is a helpful resource of your most relevant skills and can help you build your resume.
Put your network to good use – 88 percent of employers see referrals as a leading source of superior candidates. They also believe that referred candidates are a better culture fit than those gotten from other sources.
Most hires come from word of mouth, which is why it is a good idea to start your search from your immediate network. Your network can reach out to their network as well, thereby increasing your chances of getting what you want. For students, you can start with your college or university professors, so do your best to remain in their good graces.
A LinkedIn profile can be helpful as well. It is a good way to connect with other professionals in the field. There are architecture groups on the platform that can keep you updated with latest trends in architecture.
Do your research – Conduct adequate research into firms that are offering internship positions. You do not want to do all of this work just to get a position at an organization you do not fit into.
Focus your research on the important facts about the company such as location, number of years in business, company size, project niche, ownership and management style and employee structure.
Keep track of all the information you have to ensure organization, as it is very easy to get confused. An Excel spreadsheet might come in handy for the process.
Be determined and detailed – The search for an internship position can be unpredictable. It is important to note that a lot of candidates are probably applying to the same position. Therefore, you should do everything you can to make your application stand out.
Ensure that your internship applications are deliberate and specifically targeted to individual organizations. If you put in the time and effort, you should get at least a couple of positive calls or emails.
Always follow-up applications and keep track of organizations you have contacted. Put in a convincing application and make good use of your ‘brag-sheet’.
How to get an internship as a first year student
Getting an internship as a first year student might be difficult, as you have no experience and very little education. Here are a few tips that might help:
- Apply to smaller sized offices, perhaps with a sole-architects who need casual help around the office. They are more likely to hire first year students.
- Check out your university or college’s maintenance department for an opportunity to work as an intern. Most of them oversee minor renovations and repairs and would not mind any help they can get.
- Ask one of your professors to look over your resume. With their experience, they can point out mistakes or help you make it better and more suited to the position. You never know, they might know someone that’s hiring.
- Seek out a local practice in your hometown. Write an email or give a call and ask to pay them a visit. There might be an opportunity for you to do some job shadowing and maybe eventually an internship.
- Join architecture associations. Build a network of people in the field and let them know your interest in an internship.
How to get an internship as a high school student
The tips for this are similar to those for first year students. However, here are other measures that can be taken by students towards building a career in architecture:
Summer programs – These are a great opportunity for high school students who are interested in the field of architecture to test the waters. Some of these programs offer college credit as well. Summer programs are a great way for students to get a feel of what the profession fully entails and to test the limit of their imaginations. Activities in the program typically revolve around design, construction, fabrication and problem solving.
Supervised site visits – This will help students come to an understanding of the importance of every detail in a building. Plans you have studied will come to life, as you view the physical structures. You have a basic understanding of what it is like to work on a site and interact with contractors. This gives you an edge over your peers.
Research – You can find a lot of information relevant to the field on the internet. If this is a career you really want, you should know how long it takes to study architecture in school, prospects in the field and how much money you will earn. Also, it is a good idea to take classes relevant to architecture such as art, technical drawing, physics and math.
How to get an internship with no experience
Be Specific – When asked interview questions, give direct answers. Be entirely sure of what you want and why you want it. This way, you sound a lot more confident than those who give vague responses, and more likely to be offered the position.
Be prepared – Get some of the likely questions you will be asked from the internet. Practice your answers, record and listen to yourself speak and have a friend conduct mock interviews for you. This will help you be more confident on the day of the interview.
Get recommendations – Recommendations are a testament to your skills and capabilities. They go a long way especially in firms that are big on behavioral skills. Reach out to your network, let them know what you are looking for and a lot of them should be happy to help.
Strong resume and portfolio – These are the things that will get you an interview. It is essential that you put forward the best of your work. Research the company and get a clear idea of their brand. Tailor your resume to suit the job application and include a cover letter.
Be confident – Lastly, do not fret. It can be pretty intimidating when you believe you do not have much to offer. But, understand that a lot of companies are willing to hire you if they see potential. Be confident in your abilities and let it show. Outline your skills and believe in yourself.
Preparing for an internship
Be open to options when searching for a job
Yes, it is a good thing to narrow down your search to firms you are most interested in. But, we would advise that you have backup options as well. Apply to as many firms as you can, and give smaller organizations a chance as well.
Also, location plays a big role in the companies you apply to. The closer they are, the less money you have to spend on transporting yourself there. However, there are cases where firms are willing to offer financial support to cover your living and transportation costs. It never hurts to ask!
Undertake every task assigned with zeal
When you start out as an intern, you might be given jobs that nobody has time for, or just are not interested in. Though it may seem to be a bit boring or tedious, handle every task with passion. In no time, you will move up the ladder and be given the more serious tasks to take on.
If you carry out these jobs efficiently, people start to notice your diligence and commitment. Be sure to voice your concerns if you are only given odd jobs to do, and nothing relating to the field of architecture.
Find ways to help
There might be times when you simply have nothing to do at the office and have not been assigned any task. Sometimes, people are just a little too busy. Find a way to be of help around the office and ask people if they need assistance with any project.
You could offer to do some research, renderings, Photoshop edits, library sorting and so much more. They are great ways to learn and to work really quickly and efficiently. The team will notice your zeal and you might be the go-to-person for a number of important tasks in the future.
A lot of interns tend to shy away from asking questions, because they do not want to come across as stupid. It could be a question about work or how to operate the printing machine. It does not matter! It is better to ask than to make mistakes that could have been avoided.
However, try not to ask the same questions over and over again, as this could get annoying. A good tip is to write down the answers in a notebook so you can always refer to it when you need to. Also, bookmark important websites and have software tutorials close by, for any problems you might encounter.
Learn from all departments
Your internship is an opportunity for you to really discover yourself. Some departments at the office might seem pretty boring or stressful. But, it is a chance for you to see how well you could thrive in them. Every professional in the built environment contributes in one way or another, to the success of a project. You never know, something might pique your interest and you find yourself switching fields or simply gaining a new skill.
Your discussions with people in other departments will better help you understand the relationship between all building professionals.
Keep a record
It is important to document your experiences, as you would be learning quite a lot of things in a short amount of time. Keep a record of these in as many ways as you can. Take photographs of yourself, your work and things around the office or building sites.
You might need to show all of these in your portfolio and resume in the future. Photographs, videos and notes are also a reminder of things that you have learnt along the way.
Surviving an architecture internship
In order to survive an architecture internship and make the most out of your experience, follow these steps:
Be Proactive – Find ways to make your mark at the office. Be of help to those in need and let them see you as a valuable asset. If there is a skill you have that can be helpful to others, offer it to them and do a good job.
Be social – You want people to know you and remember you. Do not sit in a corner with your headphones plugged in. You want to interact with people and socialize with them. This increases your chances of being invited back the coming year, being offered a full time position or just getting amazing recommendations.
Remember to smile, be polite, friendly and approachable. However, socializing shouldn’t affect the delivery of work assigned to you.
Be flexible – Jobs in this field are based on deadlines. You might find yourself being yanked from every corner by professionals who need help with their work. Though it might get a little stressful, it shows that you are valuable to them.
Be sure to let people know what tasks you are currently handling, and when you will get to their so as to afford conflict. Manage your time properly and do not take on more than you can do.
Be well put together always – Nobody wants to work with an intern who is always late, untidy or disorganized. Make it a priority to be well put together and structured all the time. Be well dressed, remember to always take a shower, brush your teeth and comb your hair.
Also, keep your workstation tidy and clean up after yourself.
Embrace the process – Finally, be appreciative of where you are and embrace the journey. It might not be exactly what you hoped for in the beginning but no knowledge is wasted.
Sooner than later, you will handle the big projects, sit at important meetings and call the shots.
How do I ask for an architecture internship?
Asking for an architecture internship can be intimidating, but there are a few steps you can take to make the process a little easier. Here are some tips for how to ask for an architecture internship:
- Identify your goals: Before you start looking for an internship, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. What do you hope to learn or accomplish during your internship? What are your long-term career goals, and how can an internship help you achieve them? Having a clear sense of your goals can help you focus your search and communicate your interests and objectives to potential employers.
- Research potential internship opportunities: Look for architecture firms or organizations that align with your goals and interests, and start researching their internship programs or opportunities. Check out their websites, social media accounts, or other online resources to learn more about what they do and what they might be looking for in an intern.
- Prepare your application materials: If you are applying for a formal internship program, you will likely need to submit an application, resume, and possibly a portfolio. Make sure you have these materials ready and that they are tailored to the specific internship you are applying for.
- Reach out to the employer: Once you have identified a potential internship opportunity, it’s time to make contact. You can reach out to the employer directly by email or phone, or you may be able to apply through their website or online application system. In your communication, be sure to explain why you are interested in the internship and how it aligns with your goals and interests.
- Follow up: If you don’t hear back from the employer right away, it’s okay to follow up with a polite email or phone call to inquire about the status of your application. This can show your enthusiasm and initiative, and may help you stand out among other applicants.
By following these steps, you can increase your chances of landing an architecture internship and getting the experience you need to launch your career.
Which country is best for architecture internship?
It’s difficult to determine which country is “best” for an architecture internship, as the ideal location will depend on your personal preferences and career goals. Some countries may have more opportunities or be more well-known for their architecture, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the best fit for you.
That being said, there are certain countries that are known for their vibrant architecture scenes and may offer more opportunities for internships. Some examples could include:
- United States: The United States has a diverse and active architecture community, with many well-known firms and organizations based in major cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
- Europe: Many European countries have rich histories and cultures that are reflected in their architecture. Countries like Italy, France, and Spain are particularly well-known for their iconic buildings and design styles.
- Japan: Japan has a unique and distinctive architecture tradition, with many famous buildings and firms based in cities like Tokyo and Kyoto.
Ultimately, the best country for an architecture internship will depend on your personal preferences, career goals, and other factors. It’s a good idea to research and consider your options carefully before making a decision.
How do I get an architecture internship abroad?
Getting an architecture internship abroad can be a great way to gain international experience and broaden your horizons. Here are some tips for how to go about it:
- Identify your goals: Before you start looking for an internship abroad, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. What countries or regions are you interested in? What types of firms or organizations do you want to work for? Having a clear sense of your goals can help you focus your search and target your efforts.
- Research potential internship opportunities: Look for architecture firms or organizations in the countries or regions you are interested in, and start researching their internship programs or opportunities. You can use online resources like LinkedIn or job search websites to find potential openings. You may also want to reach out to professional organizations or alumni networks for help or advice.
- Prepare your application materials: If you are applying for a formal internship program, you will likely need to submit an application, resume, and possibly a portfolio. Make sure you have these materials ready and that they are tailored to the specific internship you are applying for. You may also need to provide additional documents, such as a copy of your passport or a letter of recommendation.
- Consider your visa requirements: Depending on the country you are going to, you may need to obtain a visa in order to work as an intern. Research the visa requirements for the country you are going to, and start the process as soon as possible to ensure that you have everything you need in time for your internship.
- Be flexible and open to new experiences: An internship abroad can be a great opportunity to learn about new cultures, languages, and ways of working. Be open to new experiences and try to embrace the opportunity to learn and grow as much as possible.
Which interns get paid the most?
It’s difficult to say which interns get paid the most, as this can vary widely depending on the specific industry, company, or location. In general, internships are designed to provide students and recent graduates with work experience and an opportunity to learn and develop new skills. While many internships are unpaid, some may offer a stipend or other compensation to cover expenses.
Some industries or companies may be more likely to offer paid internships than others. For example, internships in highly competitive fields like finance or tech may be more likely to offer higher salaries or other forms of compensation. Similarly, internships with large or well-established companies may be more likely to offer competitive compensation packages.
Ultimately, the amount of compensation you receive as an intern will depend on a variety of factors, including your skills, experience, and the specific needs of the company or organization you are working for. It’s important to research and consider your options carefully before accepting an internship, and to be realistic about your expectations for compensation.